Century Usher in a New Era with “The Conquest of Time” (Early Album Stream + Interview)
Swedish classic metal maniacs Century may only have their debut album coming out at the end of the week, but they’ve built up a shocking amount of hype in a short time. This hype culminated in an electric performance at Houston’s own Hell’s Heroes festival earlier this month to a packed room on a bigger stage than most brand new bands could even imagine playing. Though the incredibly high quality of the band’s music was perhaps predictable given the lineup on The Conquest of Time, with the band’s drummer/guitarist/bassist Leo Sollenmo having been in the similarly-excellent and similarly included Lethal Steel and the band’s guitarist/vocalist/bassist Staffan Tengnér being in Tøronto with him, the reception was probably not—So how did we get here?
The answer is simple: goddamn excellent heavy metal in vein of the FWOSHM (First Wave of Swedish Heavy Metal—see Heavy Load, Gotham City, Axewitch) performed and written perfectly, catchy as all hell, and with enough raging riffs and rocking attitude to turn anyone to their side. The album’s first single, released as a seven-inch with a cool Witch cover as the b-side—which we also premiered here at Invisible Oranges the other year, see here—was killer enough to generate a bunch of buzz, and The Conquest of Time delivers on it with gusto. Every sharp, driving riff perfectly propels each song to a frenetic crescendo; each chorus reminds us why catchy songs are what heavy metal fans tend to love the most, and the entire style itself is just delightful, especially given how well done it is.
Give the album a spin, and read below for an interview with the band.
Recently, you got back from Century’s first time touring in America in the lead up to Hell’s Heroes in Houston, Texas. Did your vision of the tour match up to reality? Did you expect the raging reception you get at the festival?
Staffan: We didn’t really know what to expect, but the response was overwhelming! We didn’t have many songs released, but people were going wild singing along to the lyrics and everything. The show in Houston was definitely a highlight, but the whole tour was great.
Was that your first time playing in the States, and is coming back to the USA in the near future a goal? Where else would you like to tour?
Staffan: It was our first time! I can’t say where or when, but we are absolutely planning to come back. The next step will probably be more European shows, though. Some of them are already booked and will be announced in the near future.
This one is for Leo. Leo, does the birth of Century mean that Lethal Steel is done? What (if anything) separates Century from Lethal Steel in terms of how you approach the music?
Leo: Yes, Lethal Steel is done. Music wise it’s still the same influences I’ve always had, but I think Century sounds more refined and better.
Both members of the band have credits for guitars and bass on this recording. How does the split of songwriting go? Given the presence of a live band, will there be more people than Leo and Staffan playing on future recordings?
Staffan: We both bring ideas to rehearsal and finish them together. Since we rehearse in our studio, we usually start by recording demo versions of all our new songs. First, we track live drums and rhythm guitar, then I add vocals and solos. For the album, we wrote approximately half of the riffs each, even though I play all guitars on the recording. This approach works really well for us, so we’re most likely going to remain a duo when it comes to writing and making albums. Our live lineup is permanent, though!
Did you tend to bring those song ideas to fruition individually, combine each others’ riffs into single songs, or some combination of the two? Are there ever disagreements on where to take a composition?
Staffan: It all depends on the songs. Sometimes we finish them individually, but we often complete each other's songs if we don’t know where to go with them. We haven’t really had any serious disagreements yet. Our frames of reference are very similar, so we usually don’t have to explain much to each other. On the contrary, it almost feels telepathic sometimes. It has happened many times that I’ve shown Leo a song that I’m working on, only for him to immediately show me the perfect part that I didn’t know was missing. We just recently completed a song for the second album that went exactly like that.
What exactly does “The Conquest of Time” refer to, if there’s any deeper meaning at all? The lyrics mention a path towards the unknown and candles burning into the deep, but all I have is speculation!
Staffan: The theme of time is vaguely reoccurring throughout the lyrics of the album, but I also just like how the title fits with our time related band name. The parts you mention from the title track has very little to do with the theme, though. That song was originally based on a movie I saw, and those specific lines were left in there from that initial idea. The song “Distant Mirror” fits the theme much better, as it’s essentially about futile attempts at stopping history from repeating itself.
Century’s music feels very much like a continuation of the classic FWOSHM sound, and, of course, there was a Witch cover on the B-side of The Fighting Eagle seven-inch. What draws you so much to that sound as to keep writing music in that vein? What are some favorites from that scene outside of the obvious that your fans might like?
Staffan: We just love that old sound, there is something raw and genuine about it. The “Still Alive” cover felt appropriate so we reached out to one of the original members who got to approve of our version. Since then, there’s been a compilation of all the Witch recordings, definitely check that out! I have no idea what’s considered obvious or not anymore, since everything is available on the internet, but check out:
Depzon - Flying on the Sundown
Excalibur - Prisoner
Crime - Battlefield
Akt - Battleslay
Virgin - Battle of Pride
The Conquest of Time releases Friday via Electric Assault Records.